Judgement of Solomon

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Fresco of the Judgment of Solomon, Wallfahrtskirche Frauenberg [de] Frauenberg, Styria

The Judgment of Solomon is a story from the Hebrew Bible in which King Solomon of Israel ruled between two women both claiming to be the mother of a child. Solomon revealed their true feelings and relationship to the child by suggesting to cut the baby in two, with each woman to receive half. With this strategy, he was able to discern the non-mother as the woman who entirely approved of this proposal, while the actual mother begged that the sword might be sheathed and the child committed to the care of her rival. Some consider this approach to justice an archetypal example of an impartial judge displaying wisdom in making a ruling.

Biblical narrative[edit]

The Judgement of Solomon (School of Giorgione, 1500)

1 Kings 3:16–28 recounts that two mothers living in the same house, each the mother of an infant son, came to Solomon. One of the babies had been smothered, and each claimed the remaining boy as her own. Calling for a sword, Solomon declared his judgment: the baby would be cut in two, each woman to receive half. One mother did not contest the ruling, declaring that if she could not have the baby then neither of them could, but the other begged Solomon, “Give the baby to her, just don’t kill him!”

The king declared the second woman the true mother, as a mother would even give up her baby if that was necessary to save its life. This judgment became known throughout all of Israel and was considered an example of profound wisdom.

Classification and parallels[edit]

The story is commonly viewed in scholarship as an instance or a reworking of a folktale. Its folkloristic nature is apparent, among other things, in the dominance of direct speech which moves the plot on and contributes to the characterization.[1] The story is classified as Aarne-Thompson tale type 926, and many parallel stories have been found in world folklore. In Uther’s edition of the Aarne-Thompson index,[2] this tale type is classified as a folk novella, and belongs to a subgroup designated: “Clever Acts and Words“. Eli Yassif defines the folk novella as “a realistic story whose time and place are determined … The novella emphasizes such human traits as cleverness, eroticism, loyalty, and wiliness, that drive the plot forward more than any other element”.[3]

Hugo Gressmann has found 22 similar stories in world folklore and literature, especially in India and the far east.[4] One Indian version is a Jataka story dealing with Buddha in one of his previous incarnations as the sage Mahosadha, who arbitrates between a mother and a Yakshini who is in the shape of a woman, who kidnapped the mother’s baby and claimed he was hers. The sage announced a tug war: He drew a line on the ground and asked the two to stand on opposite sides of the line, one holding his feet and the other his hands – The one who would pull the baby’s whole body beyond the line would get him. The mother, seeing how the baby suffers, released him and let the Yakshini take him, weeping. When the sage saw that, he turned the baby back to the hands of the true mother, exposed the identity of the Yakshini and expelled her.[5] In other Indian versions the two women are widows of one husband.[6] Another version appears in the Chinese drama The Chalk Circle (in this version the judge draws a circle on the ground),[7] which has been widespread all over the world and many versions and reworkings were made after it, among them The Caucasian Chalk Circle, a play by Bertolt Brecht.

The judgement of Solomon by Gaspar de Crayer, c. 1620

The common motif in those different parallels is that the wise judge announces an absurd procedure, which is reasonable in some perverse way: Splitting the baby, according to the principle of compromise; Or a tug war, in which one can possibly assume that the true mother will be motivated to pull harder. But this procedure is actually a concealed emotional test, designed to force each woman to decide whether her compassion to the baby overpowers her will to win.[8]

There is indirect evidence that the story was widespread in ancient times in the western world too. A Greek papyrus fragment,[9] dating from the beginning of the second century AD, includes a fragmented reference to an ancient legal case which is similar to the judgment of Solomon. The writer ascribes the story to Phliliskos of Miletos, living in the fourth century BC.[10][11] A fresco found in the “House of the Physician” in Pompeii depicts pygmies introducing a scene similar to the biblical story.[12] Some think that the fresco relates directly to the biblical story,[13] while according to others it represents a parallel tradition.[12]

Several suggestions for the genre of the biblical story have been raised, beyond its characterization as a folktale of a known type. Edward Lipinski suggests that the story is an example of “king’s bench tales”, a subgenre of the wisdom literature to which he finds parallels in Sumerian literature.[14]

Scholars have pointed out that the story resembles the modern detective story genre. Both king Solomon and the reader are confronted with some kind of a juridical-detective riddle. Meir Sternberg notes that two genres merge in the story: A riddle and a test; The juridical dilemma, which is the riddle, also constitutes a test for the young king: If he will solve it he will be acknowledged to possess divine wisdom.[15] Stuart Lasine classifies the story as a law-court riddle.[16]

According to Raymond Westbrook, the story is essentially a hypothetical problem, introduced to the recipient as a pure intellectual challenge and not as a concrete juridical case. In such problems, any unnecessary detail is usually omitted, and this is the reason why the characters in the story have no distinctive characteristics. Also, the description of the case eliminates the possibility to obtain circumstantial evidence, thereby forcing the recipient to confront the dilemma directly and not seek for indirect ways to solve it.[17]

Some scholars think that the original folk story underwent significant literary reworking so that in its biblical crystallization it can no longer be defined as a folktale. Jacob Liver notes the absence of any “local coloring” in the story, and concludes that the story is “not an actual folk tale but a scholarly reworking of a folk tale (apparently from a non-Israelite source) which in some way reached the court circles of Jerusalem in the times of Solomon”.[18] Similarly, Jeev Weisman characterizes it as “a wisdom anecdote which originated in the court circles”.[19]

Origin[edit]

The story has a number of parallels in folktales from various cultures. All of the known parallels, among them several from India, have been recorded in later periods than the biblical story; nevertheless, it is unclear as to whether they reflect earlier or later traditions. Hermann Gunkel rules out the possibility that such a sophisticated motif had developed independently in different places.[20] Some scholars are of the opinion that the source of the story is untraceable.[21][22]

In the biblical version, the two women are identified as prostitutes, as opposed to some Indian versions in which they are widows of one husband. Some scholars have inferred from this difference as to the origin of the story. Following Gressmann,[23] Gunkel speculates a possible Indian origin, on the basis that “[s]uch stories of wise judgments are the real life stuff of the Indian people”, and that, in his view, “a prostitute has no reason to value a child which was not born to her“; he acknowledges, however, that the Indian versions “belong to a later period”.[20] On the other hand, Lasine opines that the Hebrew story is better motivated than the Indian one, for it is the only one in which the motivation for the behavior of both women is rooted in typical motherly feelings: compassion for the true mother, and jealousy for the impostor.[24] Other scholars point out that such a travelling folktale might become, in its various forms, more or less coherent; the assertion that one version is more coherent than the other does not compel the conclusion that the first is more original.[8] Consequently, the argument as to which version’s women had more compelling reasons to fight over the child would be irrelevant.

Composition and editorial framing[edit]

The story is considered to be literarily unified, without significant editorial intervention.[25][26] The ending of the story, noting the wisdom of Solomon, is considered to be a Deuteronomistic addition to the text.[1][27]

Some scholars consider the story an originally independent unit, integrated into its present context by an editor.[28][29] Solomon’s name is not mentioned in the story, and he is simply called “the king”. Considered out of context, the story leaves the king anonymous just like the other characters. Some scholars think that the original tale was not necessarily about Solomon, and perhaps dealt with a typical unnamed king. A different opinion is held by Eli Yassif, who thinks that the author of the Book of Kings did not attribute the story to Solomon on his own behalf, but the attribution to Solomon had already developed in preliterary tradition.[30]

Scholars point out that the story is linked to the preceding account of Solomon’s dream in Gibeon, by the common pattern of prophetic dream and its subsequent fulfillment. Some think this proximity of the stories results from the work of a redactor. Others, such as Saul Zalewski, consider the two accounts to be inseparable and to form a literarily unified unit.[31]

In its broader context, the Judgment of Solomon forms part of the account of Solomon’s reign, generally conceived as a distinct segment in the Book of Kings, compassing chapters 3–11 in 1 Kings; Some include in it also chapters 1–2, while others think that these chapters originally ended the account of David’s reign in 2 Samuel. According to Liver, the source for the Judgment of Solomon story, as well as other parts of the account of Solomon’s reign, is in the speculated book of the Acts of Solomon, which he proposes to be a wisdom work which originated in the court circles shortly after the split of the united monarchy.[32]

Analysis[edit]

General description[edit]

The story may be divided to two parts similar in length, matching the trial’s sequence. In the first part (verses 16–22) the case is described: The two women introduce their arguments, and at this point, no response from the king is recorded. In the second part (23–28) the decision is described: the king is the major speaker and the one who directs the plot. Apart from this clear twofold division, suggestions have been raised as to the plot structure and the literary structure of the story and its internal relations.[33]

As stated before, most of the story is reported by direct speech of the women and Solomon, with a few sentences and utterance verbs by the narrator. The dialogues move the plot forward.[26] The women’s contradictory testimonies create the initial conflict necessary to build up the dramatic tension. The king’s request to bring him a sword enhances the tension, as the reader wonders why it is needed. The story comes to its climax with the shocking royal order to cut the boy, which for a moment casts doubt on the king’s judgment. But what seems to be the verdict turns out to be a clever trick which achieves its goal, and results in the recognition of the true mother and the resolution.

Purpose[edit]

The major overt purpose of the account of Solomon’s reign, to which the Judgment of Solomon belongs as stated above, is to glorify King Solomon, and his wisdom is one of the account’s dominant themes. The exceptions are: The first two chapters (1 Kings 1–2), which according to many scholars portray a dubious image of Solomon, and as stated above, are sometimes ascribed to a separate work; And the last chapter in the account (11), which describes Solomon’s sins in his old age. Nevertheless, many scholars point out to elements in the account that criticize Solomon, anticipating his downfall in chapter 11.[34]

In its immediate context, the story follows the account of Solomon’s dream at Gibeon, in which he was promised by God to be given unprecedented wisdom. Most scholars read the story at face value, and conclude that its major purpose is to demonstrate the fulfillment of the divine promise and to illustrate Solomon’s wisdom expressed in a juridical form. Yet some scholars recognize in this story too, as in other parts of the account of Solomon’s reign, ironic elements which are not consistent with the story’s overt purpose to glorify Solomon.

Some scholars assume, as mentioned, that the story had existed independently before it was integrated into its current context. Willem Beuken think that the original tale was not about the king’s wisdom – the concluding note about Solomon’s wisdom is considered secondary – but about a woman who, by listening to her motherly instinct, helped the king to break through the legal impasse. Beuken notes additional biblical stories which share the motif of the woman who influenced the king: Bathsheba, the woman of Tekoa, and Solomon’s foreign wives who seduced him into idolatry.[35] Beuken concludes that the true mother exemplifies the biblical character type of the wise woman.[36] He proposes an analysis of the literary structure of the story, according to which the section that notes the compassion of the true mother (verse 26b) constitutes one of the two climaxes of the story, along with the section that announces Solomon’s divine wisdom (verse 28b). According to this analysis, the story in its current context gives equal weight to the compassion of the true mother and to the godly wisdom that guided Solomon in the trial.[37]

According to Marvin Sweeney, in its original context, as part of the Deuteronomistic history, the story exalted Solomon as a wise ruler and presented him as a model to Hezekiah. Later, the narrative context of the story has undergone another Deuteronomistic redaction that has undermined Solomon’s figure in comparison to Josiah.[38] In its current context, the story implicitly criticizes Solomon for violating the biblical law that sets the priests and Levites on top of the judicial hierarchy (Deuteronomy 17:8–13).[39]

Intra-biblical allusions[edit]

Several stories in the Hebrew Bible bear similarity to the Judgment of Solomon, and scholars think they allude to it.

The most similar story is that of the two cannibal mothers in 2 Kings 6:24–33, which forms part of the Elisha cycle. The background is a famine in Samaria, caused by a siege on the city. As the king passes through the city, a woman calls him and asks him to decide in a quarrel between her and another woman: The two women had agreed to cook and eat the son of one woman, and on the other day to do the same with the son of the other woman; but after they ate the first woman’s son, the other woman hid her own son. The king, shocked from the description of the case, tore up his royal cloth and revealed that he was wearing sackcloth beneath it. He blamed Elisha for the circumstances and went on to chase him.

There are some striking similarities between this story and the Judgment of Solomon. Both deal with nameless women who gave birth to a son. One of the son dies, and a quarrel erupts as to the fate of the other one. The case is brought before the king to decide. According to Lasine, the comparison between the stories emphasize the absurdity of the situation in the story of the cannibal mothers: While in the Judgment of Solomon, the king depend on his knowledge of maternal nature to decide the case, the story of the cannibal women describe a “topsy-turvy” world in which maternal nature does not work as expected, thus leaving the king helpless.[40]

The women’s characters[edit]

Like many other women in the Hebrew Bible, the two women in this story are anonymous. It is speculated their names have not been mentioned so that they would not overshadow Solomon’s wisdom, which is the main theme of the story. The women seem to be poor. They live alone in a shared residence, without servants. The women have been determined to be prostitutes. As prostitutes, they lack male patronage and have to take care of themselves in a patriarchal society.[41]

The women’s designation as prostitutes is necessary as background to the plot: It clarifies why the women live alone, gave birth alone and were alone during the alleged switch of the babies;[42] The lack of witnesses seems to create a legal impasse that only the wise king can solve. It also clarifies why the women are not represented by their husbands, as is customary in biblical society.[43] Solomon is depicted as a king accessible to all of his subjects, even those in the margins of society.[42] The women’s designation as prostitutes links the story to the common biblical theme of God as the protector of the weak, “A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows” (Psalms 68:5). Prostitutes in biblical society are considered functional widows, for they have no male patron to represent them in court, and their sons are considered fatherless. They also bear similarity to the proselyte, who is sometimes mentioned in the Hebrew Bible with the widow and the fatherless, in that they are socially marginalized and deprived of the right to advocacy. They can only seek justice from one place: God, embodied in the story as the source of Solomon’s wisdom.[44][45]

The women are not explicitly condemned for their occupation,[46] and some think that the narrator does not intend to discredit them for being prostitutes, and their conduct should be judged against universal human standards.[47] On the other hand, Phyllis Bird thinks that the story presupposes the stereotypical biblical image of the prostitute as a selfish liar. The true mother is revealed when her motherly essence – which is also stereotypical – surpasses her selfish essence.[48] Athalya Brenner notes that both women’s maternal instinct is intact: For the true mother it is manifested, as mentioned, in the compassion and devotion that she shows for her son; And for the impostor it is manifested in her desire for a son, which makes her steal the other mother’s son when her own son dies. According to Brenner, one of the lessons of the story is that “true maternal feelings … may exist even in the bosom of the lowliest woman”.[49]

The women are designated in the Hebrew text as zōnōṯ (זוֹנוֹת), which is the plural form of the adjective zōnâ (זוֹנָה), prostitute. However, some propose a different meaning for this word in the context of the story, such as “tavern owner” or “innkeeper”. These proposals are usually dismissed as apologetic.[50] Jerome T. Walsh combines the two meanings, and suggests that in ancient Near East, some prostitutes also provided lodging services (cf. the story of Rahab).[51]

Comparison to detective literature[edit]

As mentioned before, many scholars have compared the story to the modern genre of detective story. A striking feature in the biblical story, untypical to its parallels,[52] is that it does not begin with a credible report of the omniscient narrator about the events that took place before the trial; It immediately opens with the women’s testimonies. Thus, the reader is unable to determine whether the account given by the plaintiff is true or false, and he confronts, along with Solomon, a juridical-detective riddle. According to Sternberg, the basic convention shared by the Judgment of Solomon and the detective story genre is the “fair-play rule”, which states that both the reader and the detective figure are exposed to the same relevant data.[53]

Lasine, dealing with the story from a sociological perspective, points out that like the detective story, the Judgment of Solomon story deals with human “epistemological anxiety” deriving from the fact that man, as opposed to God, is generally unable to know what is in the mind of other men. The detective story, as well as this biblical story, provides a comfort to this anxiety with the figure of the detective, or Solomon in this case: A master of human nature, a man who can see into the depths of one’s soul and extract the truth from within it. This capability is conceived as a superhuman quality, inasmuch as Solomon’s wisdom in judgment is described as a gift from God. There is an ambiguity concerning the question whether such a capability may serve as a model for others, or it is unavailable to ordinary men.[54]

By the end of the story, Solomon reveals the identity of the true mother. But according to the Hebrew text, while the king solves the riddle, the reader is not exposed to the solution; Literally translated from the Hebrew text, Solomon command reads: “Give her the living child…”. One cannot infer from this wording whether the word “her” refers to the plaintiff or to the defendant, as the narrator remains silent on the matter.

Jewish interpretation[edit]

The Judgment of Solomon by William Blake in Tempera. Currently, the object is held at the Fitzwilliam Museum.[55]

According to the Midrash, the two women were mother- and daughter-in-law, both of whom had borne sons and whose husbands had died. The lying daughter-in-law was obligated by the laws of Yibbum to marry her brother-in-law unless released from the arrangement through a formal ceremony. As her brother-in-law was the living child, she was required to marry him when he came of age or wait the same amount of time to be released and remarry. When Solomon suggested splitting the infant in half, the lying woman, wishing to escape the constraints of Yibbum in the eyes of God, agreed. Thus was Solomon able to know who the real mother was.[56]

Representations in art[edit]

If the above-mentioned Pompean fresco indeed depicts the Judgment of Solomon, it is the first known painting of a biblical story (presently moved to the Museo Nazionale in Naples).[57]

Sculpture given either to Pietro Lamberti or to Nanni di Bartolo [it]. It stands at the corner of the Doge’s Palace in Venice (Italy), next to Porta della Carta

This theme has long been a popular subject for artists and is often chosen for the decoration of courthouses. In the Netherlands, many 17th century courthouses (Vierschaar rooms) contain a painting or relief of this scene. Elsewhere in Europe, celebrated examples include:

Music[edit]

Marc-Antoine Charpentier : Judicium Salomonis H 422, Oratorio for soloists, chorus, woodwinds, strings, and bc. (1702)

Giacomo Carissimi : Judicium Salomonis, Oratorio for 3 chorus, 2 violins and organ.

Other media[edit]

The scene has been the subject of television episodes of DinosaursRecessThe Simpsons (where a pie was substituted for the baby), the Netflix animated series, All Hail King Julien, where a pineapple is cut in two to settle a dispute, the Seinfeld episode “The Seven“, and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. It has influenced other artistic disciplines, e.g. Bertolt Brecht‘s play The Caucasian Chalk Circle and Ronnie snatching Kat’s baby in EastEnders.

The HIM song “Shatter Me With Hope” includes the line “We’ll tear this baby apart, wise like Solomon”.

The Tool song “Right in Two” slightly paraphrases the scene and includes the lyric “Cut and divide it all right in two”.

A surgical technique that involves dividing the placenta with a laser as a treatment for twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome is named Solomon technique.[58]

If We Had a Real Leader

Imagining Covid under a normal president.

This week I had a conversation that left a mark. It was with Mary Louise Kelly and E.J. Dionne on NPR’s “All Things Considered,” and it was about how past presidents had handled moments of national mourning — Lincoln after Gettysburg, Reagan after the Challenger explosion and Obama after the Sandy Hook school shootings.

The conversation left me wondering what America’s experience of the pandemic would be like if we had a real leader in the White House.

If we had a real leader, he would have realized that tragedies like 100,000 Covid-19 deaths touch something deeper than politics: They touch our shared vulnerability and our profound and natural sympathy for one another.

In such moments, a real leader steps outside of his political role and reveals himself uncloaked and humbled, as someone who can draw on his own pains and simply be present with others as one sufferer among a common sea of sufferers.

If we had a real leader, she would speak of the dead not as a faceless mass but as individual persons, each seen in unique dignity. Such a leader would draw on the common sources of our civilization, the stores of wisdom that bring collective strength in hard times.

Lincoln went back to the old biblical cadences to comfort a nation. After the church shooting in Charleston, Barack Obama went to “Amazing Grace,” the old abolitionist anthem that has wafted down through the long history of African-American suffering and redemption.

In his impromptu remarks right after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Robert Kennedy recalled the slaying of his own brother and quoted Aeschylus: “In our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart until, in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God.”

If we had a real leader, he would be bracingly honest about how bad things are, like Churchill after the fall of Europe. He would have stored in his upbringing the understanding that hard times are the making of character, a revelation of character and a test of character. He would offer up the reality that to be an American is both a gift and a task. Every generation faces its own apocalypse, and, of course, we will live up to our moment just as our ancestors did theirs.

If we had a real leader, she would remind us of our common covenants and our common purposes. America is a diverse country joined more by a common future than by common pasts. In times of hardships real leaders re-articulate the purpose of America, why we endure these hardships and what good we will make out of them.

After the Challenger explosion, Reagan reminded us that we are a nation of explorers and that the explorations at the frontiers of science would go on, thanks in part to those who “slipped the surly bonds of earth to touch the face of God.”

At Gettysburg, Lincoln crisply described why the fallen had sacrificed their lives — to show that a nation “dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal” can long endure and also to bring about “a new birth of freedom” for all the world.

Of course, right now we don’t have a real leader. We have Donald Trump, a man who can’t fathom empathy or express empathy, who can’t laugh or cry, love or be loved — a damaged narcissist who is unable to see the true existence of other human beings except insofar as they are good or bad for himself.

But it’s too easy to offload all blame on Trump. Trump’s problem is not only that he’s emotionally damaged; it is that he is unlettered. He has no literary, spiritual or historical resources to draw upon in a crisis.

All the leaders I have quoted above were educated under a curriculum that put character formation at the absolute center of education. They were trained by people who assumed that life would throw up hard and unexpected tests, and it was the job of a school, as one headmaster put it, to produce young people who would be “acceptable at a dance, invaluable in a shipwreck.”

Think of the generations of religious and civic missionaries, like Frances Perkins, who flowed out of Mount Holyoke. Think of all the Morehouse Men and Spelman Women. Think of all the young students, in schools everywhere, assigned Plutarch and Thucydides, Isaiah and Frederick Douglass — the great lessons from the past on how to lead, endure, triumph or fail. Only the great books stay in the mind for decades and serve as storehouses of wisdom when hard times come.

Right now, science and the humanities should be in lock step: science producing vaccines, with the humanities stocking leaders and citizens with the capacities of resilience, care and collaboration until they come. But, instead, the humanities are in crisis at the exact moment history is revealing how vital moral formation really is.

One of the lessons of this crisis is that help isn’t coming from some centralized place at the top of society. If you want real leadership, look around you.

Jerry Falwell Jr.’s coronavirus response shows his staggering level of ignorance

After learning of Jerry Falwell Jr.’s decision to partially reopen Liberty University, my thoughts turned to the biblical account of Balaam’s ass.

According to the Hebrew scriptures, the children of Israel were on the verge of engulfing another Bronze Age tribe. Lacking recourse to the United Nations, the Moabites turned to a diviner named Balaam to curse the Israelis. But on the way to the cursing, Balaam’s conveyance, an ass, saw an angel blocking the path ahead, turned hard into a wall and crushed Balaam’s foot. Unable to see the celestial creature himself, a frustrated Balaam beat his ass. But God permitted the wounded animal to speak, mock her rider and explain the divine roadblock. The eyes of a chastened Balaam were finally opened and he took the Israeli side. And the rest is Middle East history.

Students at Liberty University are more likely than most to understand the specialness of this biblical lesson. It is one of the few stories in which Falwell should not be assigned the part of an ass. For that matter, he does not even deserve the role of Balaam, who at least was open to instruction. Instead, Falwell has charged the angel straight on and — in defiance of nearly all public health experts — reopened the Liberty dorms in the middle of a pandemic. Now, according to the New York Times, at least one student has tested positive and several more have shown coronavirus-like symptoms.

Falwell played down the risk to students who might get the disease. “Ninety-nine percent of them are not at the age to be at risk,” he argued last week, “and they don’t have conditions that put them at risk.”

But this public response indicates the staggering level of ignorance that informs Falwell’s leadership. It is possible for students with mild or unnoticeable symptoms to spread the disease. And once cases are discovered, it is generally too late to take preventive action. Yes, the fatality rate of infected college students is likely to be low. Yet places with broad community spread are more likely to see infection of the elderly and vulnerable, who are more likely to fill premature graves. Since when has Liberty University embraced the teaching of Social Darwinism in Ethics 101?

What can’t be disputed is the constant churn of mixed messages that Falwell has contributed to our national debate. His stated intention has been to concentrate Liberty’s student population: “I think we, in a way, are protecting the students by having them on campus together.”

It can’t be disputed that Falwell personally welcomed hundreds of students back to campus after Spring Break. “They were talking about being glad to be back,” he recalled. “I was joking how they pretty much had the whole place to themselves, and I told them to enjoy it.”

It can’t be disputed that Falwell has called the national pandemic response an “overreaction” with political motivations. “Impeachment didn’t work,” he claimed, “and the Mueller report didn’t work and Article 25 didn’t work, and so maybe now this is their next attempt to get Trump.”

It can’t be disputed that Falwell went on Fox News and speculated that the coronavirus might have been the work of the North Korean military.

It can’t be disputed that Falwell called one critic a “dummy,” even though he is the parent of Liberty students. Or that Falwell has dismissed a critical professor named Marybeth Davis Baggett as “the ‘Baggett’ lady.’ ”

There is an old Bob Dylan song titled, “Gotta Serve Somebody.” Who is Falwell serving instead of students, parents, staff, his board and the Lynchburg, Va., community? Let’s see.

  • Falwell has contempt for the weak. He is
  • dismissive of experts. H
  • traffics in conspiracy theories. He
  • attacks his critics with infantile putdowns and demeaning names. And he
  • refuses to admit when he is dangerously wrong.

Who does that sound like? It is on the tip of my tongue.

In this case Falwell has gone even further than the president, who is occasionally forced, under duress, to say sane things about the virus. Falwell seems to want credit from President Trump for drinking the most distilled, concentrated, rotgut form of the Kool-Aid.

He blunders toward blasphemy by insisting that he is being persecuted for his religious beliefs. “We’re conservative,” he claims, “we’re Christian, and therefore we’re being attacked.” But any path that ignores the truth and endangers the vulnerable can’t be called the way of Christ. No, there is only one explanation: Falwell has laid down the cross to follow Trump.

“Jeffersonian America”

John Fea’s Virtual Office Hours: U.S. History Survey Edition – Episode 18

Transcript

00:03
welcome history 141 students John Filion
00:06
here for the virtual office hours this
00:09
is your weekly update on lectures and
00:13
all things u.s. survey to 1865 our
00:17
trusted producer megan p.m. is here with
00:21
us as usual by the way if you haven’t
00:24
watched all of episode 17 go to the end
00:27
and you’ll see Megan and her Napoleon
00:31
costume for Halloween I think I even put
00:34
that on the blog too if someone can
00:36
follow the way of improvement leto but
00:39
today we’re coming up on an exam so I
00:42
want to do one more office hour just to
00:43
cover the last two lectures in class
00:47
where we’ve been talking about
00:48
Jeffersonian America and one of the
00:52
things are several things that I want
00:55
you to think about as we think about our
00:57
man here Thomas Jefferson I’m going to
01:00
be playing around with these Pez
01:02
dispensers a little bit today remember
01:05
Jefferson really sees his election in
01:08
1800 as it almost a second revolution
01:11
the revolution of 1800 he disagrees with
01:15
many of the policies of the Federalists
01:19
presidents and go back and look at my
01:21
fabulous one versus fabulous two bonus
01:24
track that we did last week just to make
01:27
sure you know what I’m talking about
01:28
when I refer to these Federalists but
01:30
here they are Washington and John Adams
01:32
we don’t have Alexander Hamilton because
01:34
he wasn’t a president intends doesn’t
01:35
make that Alexander Hamilton dispenser
01:39
although if anyone out there finds an
01:40
Alexander Hamilton dispenser or any
01:43
other founders for that matter send him
01:45
along and we’ll add him to the group but
01:47
obviously Jefferson does not like the
01:49
way in which the 1790s went and he is
01:53
really sees his presidency as a sort of
01:56
new birth of Liberty we’re at the
01:57
Enlightenment Liberty moving forward you
02:00
know going against the tyranny of the
02:02
Federalists right that George George the
02:05
third it’s not George the third this
02:07
time is George Washington
02:09
and the whiskey rebellion and their
02:10
vision for America of course Jefferson’s
02:12
vision much more area much more
02:15
spreading out via land much more
02:17
concerned about the common farmer so
02:20
he’s elected in 1800 and we spent some
02:22
time talking about his administration we
02:25
talked about his first term in which the
02:27
Louisiana territory Lisa Hanna purchase
02:30
is really the pinnacle of that first
02:32
term when you think about the Louisiana
02:35
territory don’t just think about it as a
02:36
huge land mass right that’s certainly
02:39
the basic stuff that you need to know
02:41
but think about the meaning of that
02:43
think about the political meaning of it
02:46
right Jefferson is wants to spread the
02:49
country westward he wants to establish
02:53
in many ways places in the west where
02:56
more and more common people are going to
02:58
go and get access to land land equals
03:01
independence land equals the American
03:03
dream so it’s the purchase of Louisiana
03:07
fits very well into his political vision
03:10
for the country and of course the
03:12
Federalists don’t like this at all
03:14
because they’re worried that well what
03:16
are you gonna do you’re gonna
03:17
Jefferson’s going to establish all these
03:19
new states out in Louisiana they’re
03:21
going to be you know they’re not going
03:23
to like the Federalists in these new
03:25
states and we’re going to basically you
03:26
know disappear from the face of the
03:28
political landscape and of course that’s
03:30
pretty much what happens so the
03:32
Federalists are very much aware this is
03:34
this is in the works also realize the
03:38
constitutional debates over over the
03:41
Louisiana Purchase and I think I made a
03:43
quick comment in class that here in
03:45
these very early years and it’s always
03:47
it’s not much like we have it today
people use the Constitution interpret
the Constitution either loosely or
strictly to basically get what they want
out of the Constitution and Jefferson
clearly is doing this when he when he
takes a very loose interpretation of the
of the Constitution saying i think the
Constitution doesn’t forbid me from
buying this territory as a president so
I can do it
04:14
so you have the Louisiana territory talk
04:16
a little bit about Lewis and Clark some
04:19
of the things associated with their
04:20
mission a mission force both scientific
04:23
exploration and the declaration of
04:25
political power or sovereignty one is
04:28
fairly successful to scientific the
04:30
political announcement to these Indian
04:33
tribes that America now owns this land
04:35
and that one doesn’t go go as well as
04:37
Jefferson would like but go back and
04:40
look at you know some of the things we
04:41
said about that expedition we talked a
04:43
little bit about Sacagawea and the way
04:46
she’s been portrayed in American culture
04:49
the second term for Jefferson not so
04:52
good foreign policy problems he finds
04:56
himself again in a situation in which
04:58
the europe is not respecting the neutral
05:03
rights of the Americans Britain
05:06
especially as impressing American ships
05:09
and I think to Jefferson’s credit and
05:12
again we can debate this but I don’t
05:15
want you to perceive Jefferson to sort
05:16
of be a wimp on this I tend to see him
05:20
more is trying to come up with a
05:22
peaceful solution to stop the
05:24
impressment of ship so the United States
05:26
doesn’t have to go to war unfortunately
05:28
the result is the embargo act of 1807
05:30
which becomes another disaster for the
05:33
United States and especially hurts the
05:35
common people in the common farmers who
05:37
tend to vote for Jefferson so understand
05:40
why the Embargo Act fails understands
05:43
jeffers this is Jefferson’s major
05:45
attempt to to deal with these problems
05:48
of impressment in the seas and
05:52
especially in and around the Caribbean
05:53
and the West Indies so by the time
05:56
Jefferson leaves office remember when I
05:58
said he doesn’t even list the presidency
06:01
as one of his major accomplishments on
06:03
his tombstone he says I wrote the
06:06
Declaration of Independence I founded
06:07
the University of Virginia I wrote the
06:09
Virginia statute of liberty licious
06:11
Liberty but he never quite saw his
06:12
presidency as one of his great achieve
06:15
greatest achievements i should say in
06:16
life so Jefferson successor where is he
06:21
here James Madison he comes on the scene
06:24
in 18
06:25
1808 he had 1809 he has to basically
06:30
deal with all the problems that
06:31
Jefferson left him and really now has to
06:35
deal with this what you know this kind
06:37
of perfect storm leading to war one you
06:41
had these young congressman Calhoun
06:44
Webster clay the Warhawks who are saying
06:49
enough of this we need to assert
06:50
ourselves we need to go to war with
06:52
Britain until they stop a crema and
06:54
pressing our ships and until they start
06:57
respecting our neutral rights you have
07:00
to come sit and the Prophet incident out
07:02
on the frontier where there’s rumors
07:05
that to come say is actually working for
07:07
the British and then you have of course
07:09
the third the impressment of British
07:11
ships this storm this threefold stole
07:14
these three storms sort of coming
07:16
together leads the United States into
07:18
war and after the exam are actually on
07:21
Friday we’ll talk a little bit more this
07:24
week will actually talk a little bit
07:25
more about the consequences and the
07:28
implications of the war of 1812 and how
07:30
that shapes what’s going to what’s going
07:32
to happen in the future so hopefully
07:36
you’ll do well in the exam go go look at
07:40
your notes about the office hours and so
07:42
forth you know prepare well and if you I
07:47
always say this if you don’t believe in
07:51
luck i should say good luck and if you
07:53
don’t believe in luck may God
07:54
providentially give you the grades you
07:56
deserve this exam and i will see you on
07:59
Monday

What the Bible says about homosexuality | Kristin Saylor & Jim O’Hanlon | TEDxEdgemontSchool

Kristin Saylor and Jim O’Hanlon talks about what the Bible really says about homosexuality and other LGBTQ topics.

The Rev. Kristin Saylor is an Episcopal priest, currently serving St. Peter’s Church in Port Chester, NY. Originally from Wisconsin, she is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Virginia Theological Seminary. She and her husband reside in the Bronx and enjoy availing themselves of New York City’s many cultural and culinary delights.

Jim O’Hanlon has been a Pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America since 2000, of St. Paul’s Church in Rye Brook since 2010.

Raised in a large, Irish, Roman Catholic family, Jim has a keen interest in the liturgical, social and church reforms of the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s. Jim joined the the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America because of its witness to the gospel of Jesus Christ and the inclusion of women, Gays and Lesbians and all people in full participation and leadership in the church.

After college he earned a Master of Divinity from Union Theological Seminary in NYC and subsequently a Master of Sacred Theology from the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Philadelphia. He completed several graduate courses in Jewish-Christian Studies at Seton Hall University in New Jersey. He serves on various boards including the Port Chester Council of Community Services and the LGBT Advisory Council for the County Executive. He enjoys collaborating with colle